Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Reducing my Life to a 20kg Suitcase

As I allowed myself to accept the idea of moving to France the impressions came more freely and I liked some of the Lord's requests more than others. I had taken pride in the fact that after 20yrs of trying, I was really close to amassing my year's emergency supply. I looked at my 168 rolls of toilet paper which stretched to the ceiling on both sides of the toilet and wept a little when I realised there was no way I was going to be able to take it all to Paris! (I found out later that some of my children's friends had been frightened to use the toilet at my place for fear that this mountain of toilet paper would fall on them while they were in there:))

The impressions came that I was to sell or give away all that I owned except for what I could take with me on the plane journey. Now, the last move that I had made required a large furniture truck of belongings to decorate my 160sq mtr modest home. Surely the Lord was joking when I was to reduce this to a single large suitcase and carry on luggage! Yet the feelings persisted and I began to look for ways to seriously get on with the preparations.

In the end, the emergency supply was the easy bit. What we didn't use in those 10months of preparation ourselves I gave away and that proved to be a sheer and utter joy! My ex-husband agreed to move into my home with my 2 girls until I could come back and pick them up so that also took care of the furniture and the house temporarily. But then there was deciding what I was going to take with me and my boys. We flew via Asia which allowed only one 20kg suitcase in the hold and our carry on luggage.

My heart hurt when I looked at all the pictures that my children had drawn that I had saved, the little nick nacks that they had given me for my birthdays and all of the other memory making items that were in my life to that point. My camera suddenly became my prize possession as I took photographs of each precious object which I then loaded onto my laptop. My children were just incredible as we held garage sales to sell what we could and I watched the little nick nacks literally disappear out of my garage into the arms of some child, usually, who wanted to buy them for their Mum.

I began to get a taste of the life ahead as I journeyed to our capital city, Wellington to visit with the French embassy there. It was clear very early on that getting a salaried position in France was not very feasible and would take far too long when the impression was that I needed to be there as soon as I could. My business specialty in New Zealand had been to audit the systems of NGO (non-government organisations) under contract to government departments and to help these organisations become more transparent, accountable and efficient. (Haha I think that just sounded like an advertising blurb!). The internet revealed that France had more NGO than I could dream of and so the idea came to apply to set up business here just as I had done in New Zealand.

Sounds straight forward right? The French authorities just did not know what to do with me:) They pretty much asked me, "What on earth was a 49 yr old single mother of 4 children THINKING if she thought she was going to build a business in France!" They admitted that they had never dealt with a similar case in the embassy and kept having to consult Paris authorities who were none the wiser.

With persistence and providing them over the months with every piece of evidence they asked for, sometimes more than once, they finally granted me a long stay visa for one year on the basis only of setting up business and which would be renewable each year. My eldest son was successful in obtaining a student visa to study in a university here and as minors, my other children were entitled to come with me, with the permission granted by my ex-husband. It was made very clear to me however, that I was not to apply for salaried jobs once I arrived there.

As day zero came and it was departure time I began to learn a valuable lesson. Yes, I could reduce my life to a 20kg suitcase and that physical possessions were not really all that important in the scheme of things. More than anything else I just wanted to know that the Lord was happy with me and that I was following His instructions as closely as I could. Yes, it would have been nice to have had some overseas carrier pack up my things and take them over to my new home but the inspiration was very, very clear. These things would become obstacles to me in my new life and I was to rid myself of them. I had no idea then how true that revelation was until now.

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